One of the most powerful lessons since Freddie’s death is that of gratitude. Counting my blessings. I learned it, not from the people who told me to be grateful for the children I still had alive and well, not from the people who told me to be glad I could have another child and not from the people who told me ‘worse things happen at sea’ but from one simple moment experienced on my sofa.
In those first few days after my son died in my arms, I sat quietly on my sofa and thought, “At least I have come home to warmth and safety and food and time to grieve. At least I have Max’s arms and running water and a soft bed to sob in. At least my girls are not starving or facing death from shot or bomb or disease. At least I can reasonably hope I will not have to face this again and again and again. Whatever else, those of us who remain are safe, for now at least.”
Worse things happen at sea.
Of all the things I’ve chosen to be grateful for over the last few years, being grateful that my son died at a time of his and our choosing was not particularly one of them. I have not thought to be grateful that it was peaceful and happened in my arms, with as much grace and love and gentleness as could be mustered. I’ve only hovered fleetingly over being glad we were both there for him and tucked up in a bed in a safe, warm, private room and that neither violence nor horror tainted the moment. I can be grateful that I can look back on that moment with an odd joy that only the bereaved parent can really understand.
Aylan’s father, the only one of his family to survive, is not the only parent for whom we need to have compassion. That story is being replayed endlessly on land and under wave but like it or not he and his family and most particularly his young son, are becoming a symbol for movement and compassion and change. Better it comes now than never. Today I suppose he is grateful that he was able to bring bodies home and bury them, with the odd bleak gratitude you feel when you are scrabbling for crumbs of comfort in despair.
If the loss of his son and those brutal photos does anything, I hope it comforts him to know the brought about the patter of stones that begin an avalanche of change. One thing is for sure, we will not change anything for the better by hardening our hearts and strengthening our borders. That way lies worse, and we would do well to remember it.
Please don’t turn a blind eye.
Do something to help.
Whatever you decide, don’t choose apathy.
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